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Ben Henderson ready to fight everyone to get to Anthony Pettis

UFC lightweights Benson Henderson, left, and Josh Thomson

UFC lightweights Benson Henderson, left, and Josh Thomson during a media availability at the United Center. (Jan. 23, 2014) Credit: AP

CHICAGO - Josh Thomson is hoping Benson Henderson has his sights on another title fight against Anthony Pettis.

The veteran fighter will be squaring off with Henderson in a five-round lightweight bout as part of UFC on Fox 10 at the United Center on Saturday night.

Henderson (19-3), the former UFC lightweight champion, gave up the title after being submitted by Pettis' armbar at UFC 164. Henderson had a seven-fight winning streak going into the fight against Pettis, the second longest in UFC lightweight history. Henderson's two of the three losses came against Pettis.

Henderson is aiming at a third fight against his rival with the belt on the line this summer if he can beat Thomson (20-5) on Saturday. Thomson appears to be just another fighter in Henderson's path to get to Pettis.

"He [Pettis] can stay injured for a year, stay hurt 'til July, two years, whatever. Every guy UFC would give a title shot to, send them my way. I'll go down the entire list of the top 10. I will beat everybody. Let's do that. When he is healthy, when he does come back then I'll be waiting," said Henderson.

Thomson isn't expecting to be overlooked, who will be giving up five years in age to the 30-year old.

"No, I don't think he does," Thomson said. "I think he is a confident person. He was just the champion for the last two years. He would be a fool to underestimate me, which would be fine with me if he did."

Thomson was supposed to get the first shot at Pettis on Dec. 14 but Pettis tore his PCL while training for the fight.

Henderson believes Thomson is looking for any motivation he can get for Saturday's fight.

"I would say probably," Henderson said. "He's probably reached on that aspect. I know there are no easy fights in the UFC. He knows there are no easy fights in the UFC. If he chooses to think that, cool, no worries. Whatever you need to do to get yourself amped up, excited and ready to go, people do different things."

Thomson is coming off an impressive victory against Nate Diaz on April 20, 2013. He became the first fighter in Diaz's 25-fight career to finish him with strikes, landing a head kick in the second round that initially got him the fight against Pettis.

"I'm 35, if I win the title that's great. If I don't win the title that's great, too. I've had a great career. I was number one in the world back in 2003, 2004. I am ranked number four in the world now and it's in a way bigger scale now," said Thomson.

The card also features a three-round heavyweight fight featuring Stipe Miocic and Gabriel Gonzaga. Miocic (10-1) is coming off a dominating unanimous decision against Roy Nelson in UFC 161. He had one of the most dominating striking performances in UFC heavyweight history, landing 106 strikes to 23. Gonzaga (16-7), has finished all his victories, nine by knockout and seven by submission. He has only gone the distance once as a pro.

Donald Cerrone (21-6) is back in Chicago, a year after getting knocked out by Pettis in a lightweight fight. He will be fighting Adriano Martins from Brazil. Martins (25-6) won his only fight in the UFC. He beat Daron Cruickshank on Nov. 9, 2013.

New York Sports